Unexpected Friends, Unexpected Blessings

Over the past few days, I have been in constant e-mail with a lady I have come to know in this grief journey. She lost her son almost a year ago and is having a difficult time with the anniversary approaching.This morning when I read her latest e-mail she was saying she was glad we are friends. This got me to thinking……………..

I have met many, many new people since our own personal D-Day. We have met other grieving parents, donor families, organ recipients, church friends, blogging friends and just so many more. I have come to love and cherish each person. Saturday at the 5K, I told one of the coordinators that I could not imagine making it this far without the love from certain people at LifeLink. I can’t imagine not having Tonya or Sherri to be there for my spastic texts and e-mails when I am having a rough day. What if I didn’t have my new church family to be there to pray for me when the going gets rough? What if I didn’t have the recipients I have met to give me hope when I have questions of why? What if I didn’t have Debbie or Kayla? What if I didn’t have any of them?????

I look back and reflect on how and why I have met them. I have met them because my son died. Plain and simple. No sugar coating it. We crossed paths because Richie died. Richie died. I more than likely would have never met these people if my son was alive. I would probably have not even listened to the news story on Kayla and Zack,, I would have never read a blog from another grieving parent. I would not have even thought about LifeLink or Donate Life. I really do not think I would have had the heart I do now to even listen to some of the stories these new friends have. I would not have wanted the stories of death to come into the protective bubble I thought I had.

Then my bubble burst. My heart became broken. And these people came in at the right times in my life to help me stand. They have not healed my broken heart but they have done a pretty good job at putting a band-aid over some gaping holes. With that being said……….

I would give up everyone of them for one more day with my son. I love them all dearly but if I had my son here today, I could live without them, And they would think the same of me. With the friends that I can be brutally honest with I tell them, “I love you but I could do without having met you this way!” The friends that are brutally honest with me tell me the same thing. We hate this life we have been given but are stronger because of the people we have met.

This Saturday, Jeff and I will be going to dinner with a new friend we met at the 5K. Another unexpected friend to add to our growing circle of love.

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Love without color

DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional writer. I am just a housewife with thoughts in my jumbled overworked brain. I may not have used politically correct terms. I may have unknowingly offended someone and I am sorry in advance. This is my story in the words that I was raised hearing. Please read to the end before you tell me how horrible I am. You will see it all comes to a point.

My niece has made me take a look at myself over the past few months. My niece has made me see how I was wrong about things in the past. My niece and her big heart that sees no colors or differences in people has made me a better person.
Growing up in a small southern town, from a big southern family with a long line of southern traditions, there were things that just were not done. And whether you understood the reason or not, you just abided by those “unspoken laws”. You just simply did not date someone that was not of your color. Now before you go thinking that my family is some back woods thinking people, let me continue. Whether spoken or not, it just never came up really. In my Mom’s generation segregation had just happened. In my generation, I went to school with the children of the first black children that ever attended school with my white Mom. There was never a question of race that I can recall in my generation. There were whispers of my cousin that dated a black boy behind the family’s back but it was never spoken aloud. Then the whispers of one of my close friends getting pregnant by none other than a black boy. This was the first time I had ever really seen it up close and out loud. Yes, I was sheltered or had blinders on. After that friend, I saw how some of my friends had been dating the opposite “race” for quite a while now. Then came when it hit our immediate family circle, I was forced to see it head on. My younger sis moved in with a boy that was half white, half black and 100% wonderful. He fished with my boys and all of us loved him. I saw the way family treated her and it broke my heart. Not just because she was my sis but because they didn’t see how great he was especially with my kids. That relationship fizzled and a side note, she married one of the worst “white” boys known to man. { Color doesn’t make you a good person.}
Moving on…….. The biggest news of all to hit this huge southern family happened! One of my cousin’s was going to have a baby by a black man! Can you imagine!? What was this family to do??? What were people going to say? The older generation went into fits! The middle generation was just watching everyone else act a fool. The younger generation, could have cared less. This was going to be our first child of “mixed color” or “mixed seed”. The mixed seed reference from one relative made me laugh. I think regardless of color, we are all of “mixed seed”. That just always seemed so stupid to me. Anyway, the day came when this baby arrived and I fell in love with him. In fact we all did. Well most anyway. {P.s. The father wasn’t the best mate choice for my cousin. Proving of color doesn’t make a good person.} Times had changed. We all just looked at this boy and wondered how anyone could hate him because of his color. Change was happening in this bunch. This went on to another cousin dating a black man. Who by the way, we all love! They are broke up but we are still in contact with him. He watches my daughter and son like a hawk and keeps them out of trouble. I think we were more heartbroken when they broke up than they were.

So now we move on to what has inspired this blog. My niece text me  a few months ago and was upset. She started it with the phrase I hate most, “I need to talk to you and it needs to be a secret.” I thought if this girl tells me she is pregnant I am going to tell her mom and we will both beat the brakes off her. But it wasn’t. She wanted me to know that she was dating a “Black” boy. My first thought was instant relief for no baby on the way and then the thought of why is this a secret. She went on to tell me that some other relatives and such were in major disagreement over this. This was just not done they said! How could she do this to the family? My response was simply, “Does he make you happy? Does he treat you like the princess you are?” She says yes and yes! When Jeff got home, that night I told him I had something to tell him about his niece. He looked at me and said,”She better not be pregnant!” I said, “No, she is dating a black boy.” He says, “Is that all? I would have been more shocked if you told me he was white!” He said he has always “known” her preference. I didn’t get him to elaborate. This man has an uncanny sense of knowing these girls better than I ever will and of what they like!

We had planned a party here on New Year’s Day and she sent me this text, “We are coming Thursday and I wanted to know if D could come? If you say no I understand.” My response, “Why couldn’t he come? Is he not housebroken?” She says yes he is and I say then as long as he doesn’t poop on my floors he can come.  Now to why I am writing this long blog, what made her ask me this!? Why does she feel like she has to ask permission for him to come over the threshold of the Schell residence? I asked her this. She said that other family would not let D come to their house. This troubled me. Are these family members willing to risk being around this lovely niece of ours just because of color hatred? Even worse, How can these people claim to love Jesus and then hate a young man because of the color of his skin before ever meeting him? Well, she brought him to our house. He is a wonderful, polite young man. He adores my niece. He treats her like a princess. She is a handful and a half and he just smiles at all her crazy ways. And in the words of her Mom, “Until he hurts her, I support them.”

This has prompted me to look in the Bible and see where it says that I should hate him because of his color. First, I believe it says,in John 3:16 that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth  in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Not that all you “white” people can go to heaven. All people.  The verse that makes skin color fade for me is Galatians 3:38 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Right there,doesn’t say anything about if you :are white, black, yellow, purple or polka dotted. John  7:24 sealed it, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgement.” Jesus said that out of his very mouth.  So there it is: Jesus said not to judge appearance. (skin color, hair color etc)

But most of all Jesus says LOVE. We are to love everyone. It says so in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. (Get a Bible and read it yourself) We should all love. If you say you love Jesus, then you should love everyone.  It is hard for me sometimes to overlook the way we were “taught” in my younger days and just love. This proving that we are taught a lot of our hate and misunderstandings. Sometimes I feel a pain of “what will the family say” when one of these many kids does something “against family tradition”. But I will say, 99% of the time, I just welcome it and love. There are good and bad of every race. We just have to surround ourselves with all the good and surround each other with love. The other 1% that I slip, I pray that God forgives me.

So my dear niece, I hope that you and D have a wonderful long life together! I want to attend both high school graduations in a few months. In the upcoming years, their college graduations. I want to dance at their wedding, spoil their children, have family dinners together. I just simply want to LOVE.

The happy couple! May they have many many years of smiles and love!

The happy couple! May they have many many years of smiles and love!

Mary did you know?

We have all heard the song, Mary did you know. I have personally heard in hundreds of times. I was up most of the early morning with this song running through my head. I have been trying to relate or fathom the story of Jesus these past few weeks. I have often thought since my own son died, if I could be like God and sacrifice my son knowingly for the good of mankind. Think about? Could you see your son nailed to a cross?
I have often thought, why does God give some mothers the joy of a child and then take it away? He certainly knows the pain of losing a child. And yes, I know that we are not to question God. But when you lose a child, you question everything. And I mean everything.
Mary did you know talks about the miracles of Jesus and his great works. Very lovely song. This morning I cried for her. Did she know also that her son would be sacrificed? The pain she must have felt. The pain God must have felt. He knew that his son was going to die. I think sometimes how I would have felt these last 20 years if I had known that this son of mine was going to die on December 30,2013. Would I have even wanted to have those 20 years knowing I would now have a lifetime of pain left? Of course the answer is yes. But of course, I was not given a “date stamp” on my child like God was.
I guess what I am trying to say this morning is just think about it. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) He loved us that much that he gave his son. In no way whatsoever could I say that I would give one of my children for any one on this earth. I still have issues giving my son back to God! This morning I woke up just astounded by this. I have heard it over and over all my life. Gave his only begotten son. Gave his son for you and I. Unfathomable! But he did. And I have everlasting life. My son is in heaven with everlasting life!
I challenge each and every one of you to not just say that verse, but think on it. Let it roll around in your mind. God did something that not one of us, no matter how radically obedient, would do. Or at least for sure not something I would do. He gave his child, HIS CHILD!
This morning I wept tears of gratefulness and prayed many thanks to God for giving us this gift. This morning was the first time that I felt the pain he must have felt. This morning I just wept for Jesus.
Interesting how a song can get your mind working in a way that it never has before!
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mary did you know

Life Insurance Money & Giving Back

Life insurance. Why do they even call it that? It does not insure anyone that they will have a long life. I guess that is the name it is given to ease the mind. Better than some companies that call it death benefits. Why this name? What are the benefits of death? Aside from organ donation and saving someone else’s life there are none.
I have received both since my son’s passing. Life Insurance and death benefits. Not a lot of money. I was able to pay off the rest of his bills and finish paying for the balance of the funeral expenses. There was even some left over. I have been faced with what to do with this money for months now. People have made many suggestions. Buy a new car. Remodel the house. Go on a vacation or cruise. I just cannot entertain any of these ideas. First off, I didn’t get nearly as much as most thought I did. Second, I just cannot bring my self to use this money to do anything for personal pleasure. This is money that we received because our son died. When we started these accounts it was because we thought the kids could use it if we died. Not because of one of them dying. How could I enjoy what I have so lovingly (insert sarcastic voice) refer to as death money. If I went on that family cruise and looked back at the pictures, who would be missing? My son. I cannot think of one thing that I would want to do with this money that would benefit me that I would have a peace of mind with much less enjoy.
So after months and months of tossing ideas back and forth with Jeff and the kids, we have settled on a decision. We will use that money to help others like us. There are two sets of families like us that will benefit.
The first is families that have lost loved ones in this small town. When a loved one dies, there are people everywhere. Two weeks later, the calm comes and most are left alone. You still have the visitors here and there but for the most part, you are left to sort your grief out alone. I was blessed to have a very good support group of family and friends. But what about the ones that don’t have this? There is no grief counseling here in this town. So what are we grieving to do? Well, hopefully at the beginning of next year, we will be able to have everything in order to start a support group. One where we can get together and just talk, laugh or cry. Share feelings. Help each other. Part of this support will be for us to reach out the minute someone looses someone and stay with them throughout the years. Not just send a plant, card or casserole and leave after the funeral. But to stay with them for the days that get rough. Be there for all the firsts, seconds and always. A group just to show love, support and prayer.
The second is for donor families. Yes, there is a lot of support being offered to us. But I have found that the best support I have is the one on one with other families like ours. Some of my best therapy has come from a special friend I have made who’s son tragically passed just after mine and was an organ donor. There are times when we email each other and talk about things that we would probably never talk about with to our husbands much less anyone else. Sometimes we just email to share something that we read that was inspiring to us. Or to simply share a letter we received from a recipient of our children’s gifts.
I will use the money that was received as a result of a young man’s untimely death to benefit others. He was always giving and caring. Always trying to help others. Always trying to bring a smile to others when they were down and out. So that is what I will do. I will honor the person he always was. A giver, Not a receiver. A light for others. I will be the light for him now.
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The gift of life

I have often been asked why I share Richie’s story. It is for many reasons. I am not going to go into all of them now, but one of the main reasons is to advocate organ donation. My son lost his life, left this earth and our family. But through his selflessness, many others were given the chance to live. Live full, productive lives. Isn’t is amazing at the science of it? Marvelous in fact! Doctors can take a heart that has stopped beating and give it to someone else and it beats again!

Even though I am deep in grief and pain with Richie being taken too soon from us, I am so glad that he was able to help save lives. He kept others from feeling the pain of loss we are. He is a hero in my eyes. A giver of life after death. Richie’s heart still beats!

Please talk to your family about organ donation. Go sign up to be a donor. Give the gift of life!